Remember that we are entering the age of the scarce and scarred customer. Real prices in many consumer categories, such as washing machines, cars and stereos, have seen little price increase in real terms during the past 10 years; in some areas -- cars, TVs, clothing and sporting goods, for example -- there have even been price decreases. Technology (including the Internet) has brought tremendous competition by allowing customers to see price and supply across many different markets. Technology has also made businesses more productive, which means they can give the customer more for the same dollar. In other words, demand is not keeping pace with rises in productivity and capacity. One way to get more of this shrinking pool of demand is to get customers' feedback at the moment they want to give it.
The greatest shortage we have in today's economy is not spare parts or raw materials, it's feedback. Whether we like it or not, customers are more in control now than they have ever been. They will not only demand more for less, but they will give you a grade on your CRM during the process. The question is, are you driving for an A or are you going to slide by with a "gentleman's C"?